Last June, we did an interview with Annie Ko, frontperson of Korean indie electro-rock trio Love X Stereo. Well, the group is now a duo consisting of Annie and Toby Hwang and is ready for the new year with a new EP, consisting of new material and re-recorded favourites. Part 1 of the We Love, We Leave album is already out now and indie pop fans will enjoy the new viz. the dynamic synth-pop energy of the sultry title track and the throbbing dance-able “My Anywhere” and the ‘old’ viz. the exciting versions of “Soul City (Seoul City)” and “Chain Reaction”. We caught up with Annie again to get some insights of where the duo is right here, right now.
Five of the songs on the new EP are re-worked versions of previously released tracks, why?
We were selected for government support provided by KOCCA in order to make a new record. Before we go any further, we wanted to take a step back to rearrange/rerecord our previous tracks, because we always wanted to. Originally, we wanted to make a LP with mixtures of old & new, but we had a strict time restraint, and that’s why we ended up splitting into two EPs. First one represents “We Love”, and the next one represents “We Leave”.
One of the highlights of the recent Music Matters Live ’14 was the Korean indie outfit Love X Stereo. The band brings a modern alternative-electro sensibility to influences from 80s post-punk and 90s alt-rock. Live, the trio are a powerhouse with the undeniable chemistry amongst dynamic bass player Sol Han, inventive guitarist Toby Hwang and front-woman Annie Ko being simply irresistible.
In the studio, Love X Stereo have already produced three fine EPs and one truly memorable single – “Soul City (Seoul City)” – that personifies the word ‘soaring’ and is definitely one of the most exciting Asian indie bands out there. Singer-keyboardist Annie Ko is the focal point of this dynamic trio, with her good looks, powerful vocals and boundless energy and she was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk to us.
We understand that you lived in the USA for a bit – is that true? Can you tell us a little about that experience?
Yes. I lived in LA when I was really young. My dad was working on his PhD at UCLA. I remember that we had great weather, occasional earthquakes, and very little rain. But I was too young to remember all the little details. However, to look back then, I was very much influenced by 80s pop music. My personal hero was Cyndi Lauper.
Oliver Mann (JPNSGRLS) was raving about Korean alt-electro rockers Love X Stereo and so upon his recommendation, I followed him to Paulaner for the band’s final gig at Music Matters Live 2014 at 1 am. What I witnessed was an epiphany! The tunes had epic pop melodies, the arrangements were tight with a post-punk revival vibe but ultimately it was charismatic vocalist/synth player Annie Ko that sealed the deal for me.
Upon further investigation, it appears that Annie and guitarist/producer Toby were both part of a ska-punk band called Skrew Attack and re-invented themselves as Love X Stereo in 2011 (and picked up bassist Sol along the way). With critically acclaimed releases Off the Grid and Flow under their belts and significant appearances at top indie rock festivals, Love X Stereo is definitely a band to explore.
Hopefully, we will be able to get PoP fans an interview with Annie soon. In the meantime, enjoy…
Apollo 18 is a post-hardcore band formed in the suburbs of Seoul, South Korea, in the summer of 2008 (having the words suburbs and summer closely connected in a sentence always sounds appropriately cool). Made up of Hyunseok Choi (guitars/vocals), Daeinn Kim (bass/vocals) and Sangyun Lee (drums), they have performed in numerous music festivals around the world, inclusive of the renowned SXSW festival in the US.
Clear as the colour it represents, the Black EP glides along in its respective shades of grey and darkness. Their previous EPs are coincidentally and conveniently titled Red, The Blue Album and Violet EP. Colourblind, anyone?
Mur opens up the EP to an intimate start, with early and naive traces of Stereophonics, Coldplay and even Elbow lingering in its aftertaste. But just when the listeners think that the sea at large is at its peaceful calm, the band decides to showcase its dynamic and differentiating sounds, and starts its own soundwaves. True post-hardcore is continued in its prideful stride till the 4-track EP’s end, presenting Apollo 18 with crossroads and the definite choice of many music journeys to come.